At the time of his retirement, Master Warrant Officer Normand (MWO) had already served our country for more than forty years. He recalls being recruited to the Army (infantry) with promises of jumping out of airplanes and seeing the world. His interest was with the Photographic Technician trade, and seven years into service his wish came to pass.
Can we picture our Comrade with shoulder-length curly hair? His early days included sporting a new haircut plus the discipline of learning to work as a member of a team.
As the years unfolded, Comrade Normand qualified to perform a variety of tasks on a wide array of weapons plus he engaged in training for winter and jungle warfare, and as a radio operator. In addition to his parachute jumping skills, Comrade Normand later qualified to fly as a Photo Tech on high performance CF-18 and CF-5 aircraft which enabled him to pursue his photography passion and take air-to-air images of weapons trials.
As a Private infantryman with specific duties he moved up the ranks and became a section commander of a TOW (Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided Missile) section in an anti-tank platoon.
In 1974, Comrade Normand was in a theatre of war in Cyprus and came under fire on many occasions. Comrade Normand sadly remembers casualties in his unit. Two fatalities and several dozen wounded personnel have left an indelible memory. But there is balance. Memorable experiences filming the activities of the Canadian Rangers from Inuit communities in the High Arctic opened new vistas in mind, body and soul.
As a Photo Tech he spent ten years travelling in Canada and abroad documenting on film Canadian Forces activities. Deployed with a film crew to cover Canadian Forces activities in the first Gulf War in 1991, he recalls going to wherever there were Canadian troops including the operation site of the CF-18 in Qatar. The biggest threat was the Iraqi Scud missiles which were capable of carrying chemical and biological warheads.
Posted away from home for most of his career when the opportunity presented itself, he visited the family. Four years in Germany allowed him to visit most countries in Western Europe.
Comrade Normand is the recipient of many medals and citations including: Order of Military Merit; Gulf and Kuwait Medal; Special Service Medal – NATO Bar; Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal; United Nations Forces in Cyprus Medal; Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal; Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal; Canadian Forces Decoration with two bars; RCAF Commander’s Commendation (twice).
To compliment his Bachelor of Arts Degree (History), upon retirement he pursued a Museum Studies programme followed by an Internship at the Simcoe County Museum.
Comrade Normand attends as many reunions as possible and is an active Branch 270 member. As our First Vice-President, he also provides the following volunteer services: Branch Collection/Historian Chairperson; Editor-in-Chief of our monthly newsletter, and Public Relations Officer.
In closing the interview, Comrade Normand stated, "Many people in the village feel connected through their [military] family history. I think the Branch has done remarkable efforts in recent months and years to rediscover and maintain this connection.”
We thank you for your service.